When Urban Jungle on 1526 East Passyunk Avenue first opened its doors in December of 2009, owner and president Curtis Alexander sold Christmas trees to the neighborhood. Two years and $100K of building rehabilitation later has converted Urban Jungle into a full service landscaper, classroom and retail store.
The store’s home base on Passyunk Avenue has provided a great deal of community greening efforts to the East Passyunk Area. Notable changes to the Passyunk fountain area have been seen over the past few weeks: new trees, tiles, fence removal and word of possible benches. Walking down Passyunk Avenue, a surprising amount of plants and greenery can be contributed to Urban Jungles efforts. This includes the bamboo and rooftop garden at Paradiso, the green wall at Le Virtu, the façade at Tre Scalini, irrigated window boxes outside Black ‘n Brew and planters outside Izumi to name a few. Urban Jungle even held a fundraiser flower sale for the Passyunk Civic Square Association (PCSA).
Alexander’s niche is vertical greening, or green walls: plants and flowers in modular planters that can hang on an interior or exterior flat walls. Vertical greening can be irrigated or self-watered, which is the key, according to Alexander, to urban gardening. To learn more about city gardening, Urban Jungle provides classes to green city-dwellers thumbs to teach how to make and care for window boxes, grow summer vegetables and even build terrariums. With community greening blooming, hopefully other neighborhoods will be inspired to keep their residential and commercial properties just as fresh. —Suzy Grimberg